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tv   Battle of Rhode Island  CSPAN  January 20, 2018 10:33am-10:46am EST

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grown. it is a public-private partnership. over the years, it has been raising money, garnering support. on the state department side, the office has come into being, the collection has come into being. we are in partnership with the foundation to develop the exhibitions and public program for the future museum, continuing to collect artifacts. we are looking forward to opening to the public in a few years. >> all weekend long, american history tv joins our cox communications partners to show the history of newport, rhode island. to learn more about the cities on our current tour visit c-span.org/citiestour. we continue now with the history of newport. >> it is a first test of the
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french-american old military alliance. it does not go well. it shows poor communication between the two. it also shows what the americans cannot do without, which is major french artillery support. in terms of being a test of the french-american alliance, there are real lessons learned. what we are doing is talking about the battle for rhode island and the battle over rhode island. we are talking about that military action that takes place on august 9, 1778. the major combat phase between the americans and the french that are the northern part of the island and the british and the hessians occupying newport. that is part of a broader battle for rhode island that takes
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place before. september, 1776, is one of the first major cities to follow. new york falls to the british. undefendedan almost capacity, the british are able to move into here, and it is one of the six largest cities in north america. the first real attempt of the americans and perhaps the only real attempt is not until 1778, and that ties into these broader strategic issues of the french-american alliance. iny signed a treaty september 1778. frenchves the americans naval support along with american ground troops. the first time they can try this later onnce out is
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that summer when a french commander arrives. there is an assumption among people like the american commander here am a john sullivan, one of george favorites.s he is known for his enthusiasm. he is not known for being moderate. washington puts him in charge of the operation to take back this island. the thinking that once we have the french fleet and american army, in combined operations, weekend dislodged the british islodgesians -- we can d the british and hessians and loyalists. the americans are expecting not just the bombardment but also the use and support of french
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troops. that is what sullivan is planning for. the problem is there is not a lot of communication even given the presence of the marquis lafayette. he is one of john sullivan's primary lieutenants. he is commanding an entire wing of sullivan's army. he thinks lafayette will be able to facilitate the communications between the americans and french. it does not work out that way. there is a massive storm in august. it not only impacts the american troops. it soaks their gunpowder, destroys their tents, and turns the main roads on the island into mudpits.
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it creates real tactical problems. the strategic issue is it does a great deal of damage to a lot of french ships. keen to leave damaged ships in the harbor. what they want to do is leave to take the fleet from the bay out and around to boston, protected harbor, no british threat. this is where the miscommunication between the two reaches its apex. sullivan loses it. sullivan completely goes that hec over the fact is going to leave during these plans to attack newport. does the oneicly thing you are not going to do in the 18th century he questions their honor. he outright calls them cowards.
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the french leave and have no intention of coming back. sullivan almost sinks the entire franco-american alliance. one of the first of the battle of rhode island on august 29 is it is the first opportunity for cooperation between french and americans in the war, but it is almost the last. it becomes so serious that lafayette has to ride from newport to boston to convince the french to come back. sullivan makes the decision he is going to go ahead with his attack on newport. andttempts, on august 28 29, to move forward into attacking newport, but the british positions are too strong. we have about 10,000 american troops. there is a small canadian unit.
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there is also the unique presence of the first rhode island regiment. they are one of the most famous regiments of the american revolution. it is one of the first integrated units. they are comprised of former slaves that are freed by their investment, native americans, and european americans joining together. the biggest enemy the americans weather.he because his gunpowder has been damaged, because the roads are in rod shaped, because the men are not in the best condition, and because he does not have that french bombardment support, he is not able to launch an effective attack. the battle is not much of a battle. it is simply sullivan's troops trying to move, getting bogged
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down, the british able to maintain their positions. in the end, it is a major defeat for the americans. if sullivan's goal is to dislodge the british from this port, he completely fails. sullivan tries to save what is retreathis army and back up the island, get off the island before the british can counterattack. sullivanhis retreat, bombards the city of newport, where we are standing out. it is an effective bombardment. it keeps the heads of the british and the hessians down. he is able to successfully keep baybritish and hessians at and quickly get the provincial troops off the island. that is the greatest success the
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americans have of the entire campaign. that ends the battle of rhode island. there is the battle for rhode island. n 1776,tish docked here i but they don't leave until october 1779. for most of the revolutionary war, newport remains a british port. they have already captured savannah, georgia. there has been all this fighting between the british and french fleet in the caribbean. newport has lost its importance for the british because they cannot spread themselves too thin given they now have a caribbean theater. they pull their troops very quietly in october of 1779. they leave here, and half the town goes with them. it is not long before the patriots move back in.
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lafayette, who has gone back on a trip home to france to generate more support and supplies for the americans, he returns in june 1780. lead he returns, the french an army here, and that is the last phase of newport's revolutionary history. the battle for rhode island is over when the british sleep. then the french and americans come back. this becomes a town every bit as dominated by the french and american army as it had been by the british and hessians. this is where that project of forging that french and american alliance starts gaining traction. they had does everything -- lafayette does everything he can in this town to bring washington and rochambeau together. they are able to actually meet
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face-to-face. it was under plans -- this broader campaign of fostering discussion and communication in order to build on those lessons that were learned from the battle of rhode island that leads to the fruits of the cooperation that end up in yorktown. that all happens here. it is from here that the troops to goat the end of 1781 straight to yorktown. newport place an extraordinary role in the american revolution important campaign for new england, and it plays a seminal role in the broader conflict. >> our staff recently traveled
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to newport, rhode island, to learn about its rich history. learn more about newport and other stops on our tour at c-span.org/citiestour. watch american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. discoveredeleigh dozens of unpublished photographs in the new york times archives. they included many well-known civil rights leaders and ordinary citizens and eventually led to the book on scene, -- unseen. next, darcy eveleigh and rachel swarns show photographs from the book and talk about the stories behind the photographs. this is an hour and 15 minutes. lower in rosenberg, and it i

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